Since the days of Christ’s sermon on the mount, where is the speech of emperor, king, or ruler, which can compare with this? May we not, without irreverence, say that passages of this address are worthy of that holy book which daily he read, and from which, during his long days of trial, he had drawn inspiration and guidance ? Where else, but from the teachings of the Son of God, could he have drawn that Christian charity which pervades the last sentence, in which he so unconsciously describes his own moral nature: ” With malice towards noie, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the rights No other state paper in American annals, not even Washington’s farewell address, has made so deep an impression upon the people as this.
A distinguished divine, coming down from the Capitol, said: “The President’s inaugural is the finest state paper in all history.” A distinguished statesman from New York said in reply: ” Yes, and as Washington’s name grows brighter with time, so it will be with Lincoln’s. A century from to-day that inaugural will be read as one of the most sublime utterances ever spoken by man. Washington is the great man of the era of the Revolution. So will Lincoln be of this, but Lincoln will reach the higher position in history.” This paper, in its solemn recognition of the justice of Almighty God, reminds us of the words of the old Hebrew prophets. The paper was read in Europe with the most profound attention, and from this time all thinking men recognized the intellectual and moral greatness of its author.
Quoted in Isaac N. Arnold, The Life of Abraham Lincoln (Chicago: Jansen, McClurg, & Co., 1885), p.404–05.